After the wedding, preparations continued smoothly for the planned march on the Oda Clan. As he worked the necessary arrangements, Nakamura Eiji was visited by two individuals seeking to march with him at the new month. Kaihime and the blade-wielding girl from the tournament, who introduced herself as Chisawa Ai, both arrived at his quarters, requesting they be taken with. It seemed that Kaihime wanted revenge for the annihilation of her town, and Ai simply felt that, since strong people tend to gather around Eiji, following him would be a rewarding experience.
At the designated time, the first of August, the Nakamura army began its march Westward. Eiji remained with his sizable body of troops and generals, Ayame riding beside him, while Yamada Junko scouted ahead. The force passed through Musashi without incident, and began their entry into Sagami, where they planned to give the ruined Odawara Castle a wide berth.
About a mile ahead of the main group, Junko encountered a set of three hulking figures proceeding down the road towards the army. Their leader was clad in interlocking, organic-looking plates of armor, and held a huge wicked looking sword in its one normal arm. The other appendage twisted unnaturally and ended in a massive misshapen claw. Following it were two other shambling brutes, similar to the larger one but still bearing some characteristics of the peasants they once were.
Junko had been gifted by Ken Suna’s magic with preternatural speed, and now used this speed to almost instantly cover the mile separating her and Eiji. Upon learning of the advancing monstrosities, the Nakamura Daimyo ordered his army to a halt. He and his generals would face the creatures alone. Gathering his allies, they marched ahead of the force until they encountered their would-be attackers.
As the others were still readying for combat, Chisawa Ai stepped forward calmly and stood in front of Suna, Kaihime, and Oeyo, the party’s three most vulnerable members. She took her sword sheathe and carefully drew a line in front of the others, then simply stood in the same position and gazed upon the enemies dispassionately.
Eiji, giving off an air of utter confidence, walked up to the leading monster with his hands in his pockets and stood before it. Without him moving, a pair of blades materialized in the air beside him and struck at the creature. The first blow clashed harmlessly against its heavy armor, but the second one found purchase and lodged itself within the hulk’s flesh, giving off a brutal discharge of electricity. Silently, the thing counterattacked, swinging both massive blade and twisted claw, but Eiji, hands still in his pockets, effortlessly evading the swings.
Back with the ranged parties, Suna crafted a spell to give her control of one of the mutated peasants, taking hold over its afflicted soul. At the same time, Oeyo moved to where she could achieve a clear line of sight on the other peasant, and produced an iron spike from her robes. As she concentrated, electricity began to crackle in the air, and the spike hovered for a moment before being magnetically hurled with a sudden sonic boom. The metal shot straight through the chest of the peasant and continued onward. Her opponent was still alive, but obviously staggered.
The rest of the generals focused their attacks on the hulking leader, Eiji battering it with ethereal swords, Ayame harrying it from behind with her monofilaments, Junko strafing the creature too quickly to be seen, and the controlled peasant slashing at it with his blade. At once, Eiji saw an opening, and a single sword plunged through an overlapping plate in the armor, impaling deep into the creature’s flesh. With a burst of electricity, the giant stopped moving, then slowly collapsed forward.
Kaihime ignited the injured peasant monstrosity with an explosive burst of flame, leaving nothing but ashes, and the remaining creature, under Suna’s command, ripped its own heart out before falling dead. The enemies dispatched, the Nakamura generals returned to their forces and resumed their Westward march.
Moving at a brisk pace, the army skirted Odawara and entered into Suruga, the beginning of Oda’s territories. There, scouting ahead, Junko discovered that the castle town had already been seized by a contingent of armed Buddhist monks. Investigating further, she accosted an acolyte and learned that they had attacked the town to avenge Oda’s supposed destruction of a nearby temple. Amused, the ninja returned and imparted this news to Eiji.
As before, the Daimyo ordered his troops to a halt and took his generals to the town. At the gates, they were met with a more severe-looking, bearded monk, who appeared to be their leader. He denied working for Uesugi Kenshin, as Eiji originally assumed, and explained his follower’s righteous rage at the wrongdoings of the Oda clan. Upon learning of the other’s war against Nobunaga, and after some deliberation, the man donated two squads of warrior monks to Eiji’s cause, and granted him free passage through the province they now held.
Thus the march resumed. The terrain began to turn rocky and mountainous, as the Nakamura army began to enter the province of Totomi. Scouting as is procedure, Junko encountered a large company of horsemen waiting to ambush them at the top of a long incline. Behind the cavalry was a sizable group of Ashigaru, apparently commanded by the mangy, monkey-looking man she had encountered before in Suruga. With him was an oddly-dressed man wearing leather, a wide-brimmed hat, and a red scarf. Apparently seeing Junko from her hiding place, he looked up at her and smiled, before she vanished and returned to bring the news to Eiji.
Upon assessing the situation, Oeyo teleported herself far ahead of the advancing army, atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the enemy force. Bringing her psychic power to bear, she issued an irrefutable command to a large portion of the cavalrymen waiting below, forcing them to attack their allies, then rush the waiting Ashigaru in their main camp. Junko, who had been observing the enemy army from an opposite cleft, observed the monkey general send a messenger down another pass. As soon as the courier was out of sight, she ambushed him, killing the hapless man instantly and procuring the message, which she took back to Eiji.
The missive, written to an unnamed third party, simply stated that the main army was in turmoil, and ordered the reader to dismiss the original plan and instead provide reinforcements. Eiji, immediately recognizing the presence of another enemy force, dispatched Junko to search for the recipient of the letter, a task that took her mere seconds. Up a mountain pass connected to the main valley, she found another large contingent of cavalrymen, led by a muscular, wild-looking man with long hair and a bare chest.
Silently, Junko appeared on the head of the leader’s horse, managing half of a sentence before he reflexively batted her away with the blunt of his spear. Injured, but unfazed, the ninja proceeded to tell the angry man that his main force was in shambles. Muttering something about never having liked the plan, he roared and rallied his men, leading them charging down the mountain path and into the valley. Junko, meanwhile, vanished, returned to Suna for healing of her wounds.
From her perch upon the nearby cliff, Mito-jō no Oeyo watched as the reinforcing cavalry charged from the mountain pass and into an empty valley, where they halted and began to look about confusedly. As she prepared to inflict a similar fate upon the hapless horsemen, she was interrupted by a boot pressed firmly to the back of her neck, forcing her head into the dirt. Her assailant’s words were lost on her, until she established a telepathic link to facilitate communication.
After confirming that the attacker was indeed an enemy, she teleported a short distance away and faced him. The hat-sporting man from before turned to face her with a vague smile, brandishing a garish, but exquisitely crafted red pistol. Recognizing it as a weapon, though dissimilar to the rifles she was familiar with, Oeyo summoned up a magnetic field to rip it from his hands, leaving the weapon hovering jerkily to her side.
As soon as he was disarmed, the man pulled another pistol from his belt, this one a metallic blue, and, without hesitation, shot out the priestess’ kneecap. Breathless from the pain, but retaining her composure, Oeyo dropped to one knee, the other leg unable to support her weight. Her assailant calmly closed the distance between them, the pistol trained on the crouched woman. Then, as he bent down to grab her, his own shadow morphed into a solid form and smashed him across the face.
Leaping backward, with a trickle of blood marring his lip, he quickly turned to discover Yamada Junko standing behind him, arms crossed. Recognizing the threat, he immediately shot out the ninja’s leg with another well-aimed bullet. To his somewhat disturbed surprise, this did not seem to inconvenience her in the least, and Junko was instantly behind him and attacking with another shadow. What followed was a battle of attrition. The scarfed man was able to fend off the ninja’s strikes with moderate success, but whenever he would line up a shot he found that he could not bring himself to pull the trigger. It was as though he had a mental block preventing him from attacking. Meanwhile, Oeyo teleported back to Eiji and Suna, who restored her leg back to functionality.
After being worn to exhaustion, the man finally gave up. Declaring himself “dead”, he proceeded to sit upon a nearby rock and watch with his arms crossed. Shrugging, Junko vanished and returned to the main force, which was quickly approaching the valley proper.
As soon as the Nakamura army entered the pass, the cavalry, reformed under the command of Oda’s monkey general, charged. Leading the force was the wild man who has wounded Junko, his steed far faster and stronger than any normal horse. Suna chose the right moment, and inserted a spell between the leading man and the remaining cavalry, causing a huge tiger-like monstrosity with flaming claws to burst from the ground before them. A few horsemen managed to skirt it and continue, but the majority of the force was brought to a halt as their mounts panicked.
Making use of her unnatural speed, Junko vanished and reappeared amongst the Ashigaru soldiers guarding the enemy generals. With a huge burst of shadowy energy, she sent men flying in every direction, breaking several ranks. As the chaos subsided, she was gone again, returned to the main force.
Meanwhile, the leading horseman was bearing down on Chisawa Ai, who had drawn a long line in the dirt some distance ahead of the army, and was waiting behind it, sword arm ready. The larger man burst over the line, massive spear arcing towards her as Ai released her blade from its sheathe and scored it across her opponent’s exposed skin. To her horror, the wild man merely grinned and shrugged off the blow without injury, his muscled flesh harder than armor, then completed his swing, tearing a deep gash down Ai’s shoulder.
Before he had another chance to strike, Nakamura Eiji was between him and the swordsman, hands in his pockets and four swords materializing and diving towards him point-first. This attack was as successful as the previous, however, and his opponent smashed the swords out of the air with his arms, their keen blades not penetrating his skin. Eiji barely dodged the man’s spear as it ripped through the air where he was standing a moment before. Still grinning, the assailant turned his horse and began to gallop back towards his own force.
The maneuvering provided Chisawa Ai with a valuable opportunity, and her blade, coated in a thin sheen of her own blood, shot out of its sheathe with an audible crack of energy, rending the air before her. Her mounted opponent’s grin froze, as his leg cleanly separated itself from his body, and his slid almost soundlessly off his horse, unconscious from shock.
While this was occuring, Junko engaged in another raid against the enemy Ashigaru, appearing in a burst of shadow and blowing away the remainders of the defensive force. Before she could vanish again, however, the older enemy general waved his staff in a wide arc and froze her in place. Where Junko had stood a moment before was now only a stone caricature of her former self, unmoving and unaware.
Rightfully fearing the battle to be lost, the monkey general turned toward the Nakamura force and raised his hands to cast one final, devastating spell. Before he could utter the words, two strands of monofilament whipped from the shadows behind him, cleanly severing his raised arms. Wordlessly, he collapsed, dead before he hit the ground, with his wooden staff clattering forlornly beside him. Simultaneously, the spell petrifying Junko was released, and the last remnants of the Oda force scattered, spelling another victory for the mighty Nakamura.